Dr Ruth Scurr FRSL (born 1971, London) is a British writer, historian and literary critic. She is a Fellow of Gonville & Caius College, Cambridge. She was educated at St Bernard's Convent, Slough; Oxford University, Cambridge University and the Ecole Normale Supérieure, Paris. She won a British Academy Postdoctoral Fellowship in 2000.
Her first book, Fatal Purity: Robespierre and the French Revolution (Chatto & Windus, 2006; Metropolitan Books, 2006) won the Franco-British Society Literary Prize (2006), was shortlisted for the Duff Cooper Prize (2006), long-listed for the Samuel Johnson Prize (2007) and was listed among the 100 Best Books of the Decade in The Times in 2009. It has been translated into five languages.
Her second book, John Aubrey: My own Life (Chatto & Windus, 2015; New York Review of Books, 2016) was shortlisted for the 2015 Costa Biography Award and the James Tait Black Memorial Prize. It was chosen as a 2015 Book of the Year in fifteen newspapers and magazines, including: the Daily Telegraph, the Financial Times, the Times, the Sunday Times, the Times Literary Supplement, the Sunday Express, the Guardian, the Spectator and the New Statesman. It was chosen as a 2016 Book of the Year by Publisher's Weekly, Kirkus Review and the Washington Post.
Scurr began reviewing regularly for The Times and The Times Literary Supplement in 1997. Since then she has also written for The Daily Telegraph, The Observer, New Statesman, The London Review of Books, The New York Review of Books, The Nation, The New York Observer, The Guardian and The Wall Street Journal. She has been a consultant editor at The Times Literary Supplement since 2015.
She was a judge on the Man Booker Prize panel in 2007, and the Samuel Johnson Prize panel in 2014. She is a member of the Folio Prize Academy.
Scurr is Director of Studies in Human, Social and Political Sciences for Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge where she has been a Fellow since 2006. Her research interests include: 17th and 18th century history of ideas; biographical, autobiographical and life writing; the British and French Enlightenments; the French Revolution; Revolutionary Memoir; early Feminist Political Thought; and contemporary fiction in English.
She was married to the political theorist John Dunn between 1997 and 2013. She has two daughters and a stepson.